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Key Features

  • Reduction of fractures in children can usually be accomplished by simple traction and manipulation

  • Open reduction is indicated if a satisfactory alignment is not obtained

  • Remodeling of the fracture callus generally produces an almost normal appearance of the bone over a matter of months

  • Child abuse should be suspected when

    • Age of a fracture does not match the history given

    • Severity of the injury is more than the alleged accident would have produced

Clinical Findings and Diagnosis

  • Epiphyseal separations

    • More common than ligamentous injuries in children since the ligaments of the joints are generally stronger than their associated growth plates

    • Radiographs should be taken whenever a dislocation is suspected in order to rule out epiphyseal fracture

    • Radiographs of the opposite extremity, especially for injuries around the elbow, are valuable for comparison

    • Fractures across the growth plate may produce bony bridges that will cause premature cessation of growth or angular deformities of the extremity

    • These bridges are due to trauma to the growth plate and can occur even with adequate reductions

  • Torus fractures

    • Consist of "buckling" of the cortex due to compression of the bon

    • Most common in the distal radius or ulna

  • Greenstick fractures

    • Involve frank disruption of the cortex on one side of the bone but no discernible cleavage plane on the opposite side

    • Bone ends are not separated, making these fractures angulated but not displaced

  • Clavicle

    • Healing callus will be apparent when the fracture has consolidated

    • Unsightly lump will generally resolve over a period of months to a year via bone remodeling

  • Supracondylar fractures of the humerus

    • Tend to occur in children age 3–6 years and are the most common elbow fracture in children

    • The proximity to the brachial artery in the distal arm creates a potential danger when dealing with these types of fractures

    • Absence of a distal pulse is a strong indicator of a secondary arterial injury

    • Swelling may be severe as these injuries are usually associated with a significant amount of trauma


  • Epiphyseal separations

    • Reduction of a fractured epiphysis should be done under anesthesia to align the growth plate with the least amount of force

    • Epiphyseal fractures around the shoulder, wrist, and fingers can usually be treated by closed reduction, but fractures of the epiphyses around the elbow often require open reduction

    • In the lower extremity, accurate reduction of the epiphyseal plate is necessary to prevent joint deformity when a joint surface is involved

    • If angular deformities result, corrective osteotomy may be necessary

  • Torus fractures

    • Alignment is usually satisfactory, and simple immobilization for 3 weeks is sufficient

    • Soft bandage therapy and cast therapy are effective in preventing further angulation

    • It is important that the fracture is not misdiagnosed as a greenstick fracture at initial presentation;children who are misdiagnosed report having more pain after application of a soft bandage or cast

  • Greenstick fractures

    • Reduction is achieved by straightening the ...

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